Houston gets an F for LGBT equality efforts

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The largest city in Texas flops when it comes to LGBT inclusion, as Houston received a failing score on a new equality index and lags behind several other municipalities in the state.

Houston received a 54 on HRC's 2014 Municipal Equality Index, which was released on Wednesday. The only other municipality in greater Houston included in the rankings, Pasadena, scored a dismal 10.

Houston, which received a 63 last year, was dinged for its lack of a non-discrimination ordinance and domestic-partner registry. The city passed the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance in May, but Mayor Annise Parker put it hold while it's being challenged in court.

The city extended health benefits to the partners of gay city employees in November 2013. That measure, like HERO, has faced court challenges from anti-gay opponents.

Pasadena scored a 10 on the report, collecting those points only because the municipality reports hate crime statistics to the FBI. The city was not included in the 2013 report.

“In this country there is an ongoing race to the top to treat all people, including LGBT people, fairly under the law. It’s time our state and federal laws caught up,” HRC President Chad Griffin says in a press release.

Last year, Houston received a 63 and scored bonus points for its LGBT elected officials, engagement with LGBT residents and pro-equality efforts “despite restrictive state law.” HRC also made several changes to scoring and bonus points for the 2014 report.

The city's score dropped from last year over its municipal services. In 2013, the Houston received 15 out of 20 points for its Human Rights Commission, anti-bullying school policies and services to vulnerable LGBT populations. In 2014, the city received eight points in those areas.

Houston's score was close to the average score of the 200 largest cities in the country – 60, according to HRC.  Some 38 cities earned a perfect 100 on HRC's scorecard – the only one in Texas was Austin. Dallas scored a 91, the second-highest among cities in the state. The two cities were also included MEI “All-Stars,” the 23 municipalities that HRC says are cities that score highly in states without LGBT supportive laws.

The report graded 22 cities across Texas. The worst? Irving, Lubbock, McAllen and Mesquite scored zeroes.

HRC's report scores municipalities on 47 criteria across six categories – non-discrimination laws, relationship recognition, policies and benefits for LGBT city workers, inclusiveness of city services, law enforcement and city leadership on equality issues. For the first time, the report also included whether a city offers transgender-inclusive health care benefits.

The 2014 report rated some 353 cities across the U.S., including the 50 state capitals, the 200 largest cities, four largest cities in each state, the city home to the state's largest public university and 75 others that have high proportions of same-sex couples. ­­




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